Windows software will work on Chromebooks using CrossOver for Android. With Android compatibility on Chromebooks, it will soon be possible to install Windows software like Steam as well as the many games only available for Windows.
Wine is coming to Chromebooks
CrossOver for Android is a commercial project carried out by CodeWeavers. It takes code from the open source Wine project which allows Windows applications to run on Linux and Mac OS X, and adapts it to Android.
Running Windows apps on Android is a cute idea, but the average person won’t install desktop apps on their Android smartphone or tablet. But, now that Chromebooks are gaining an Android compatibility system, it’s possible to install CrossOver for Android on a Chromebook and use it to run Windows software.
In a fascinating article on the CodeWeavers blog, James Ramey explains what works today:
We were able to install the Steam client in CrossOver for Android and run LIMBO and other games. MORE IMPORTANT, we have DirectX 9 support, keyboard support, mouse support, and sound support TODAY !!! PEOPLE we are watching a leprechaun riding a unicorn while taking a photo of a UFO. We run CrossOver via Android on a Chromebook running a Windows game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE… NEVER !!! ”
It also provides a video of the Windows version of Limbo running on a Chromebook.
CrossOver for Android is not yet available, but support for stable Android apps for Chromebooks is also not yet available. When it does, CrossOver will be there with a way to run Windows software directly on Chrome OS. It’s not an ideal way to run all Windows software, but it is a way to run a lot of software, and new features like DirectX 11 support are in the works.
ARM Chromebooks Are Left Behind
According to CodeWeavers, CrossOver for Android now works on the Chromebook Pixel (2015) and Acer Chromebook R11, both of which include Intel chips. These devices both just received Support for Android applications. CrossOver does not work on the Asus Chromebook Flip, which uses an ARM chip.
Don’t expect this to change. CrossOver can run Windows applications, but only on Intel architecture. ARM Chromebooks will not be able to use CrossOver for Android to run Windows software. It’s just a fundamental limitation of the technique.